Has PR been on your to-do list for a while? Have you been putting it off until you have more time, money or a better website (or something other excuse entirely)…?
Maybe you’ve had some media coverage already. But you want to go bigger and better: more national coverage, more prestigious titles or get yourself on TV or radio, finally.
Whatever your goal, if you want to rock at PR in 2016, here’s three things you should do TODAY to get prepared.
1.Create a media calendar (‘on diary’)
Great PR is all about timing.
When you approach a journalist with a story idea the first thing they will think is: ‘Why do people need to hear about this now?’
So if you want to give yourself the best possible chance to get PR – and lots of it – you need both anticipate and respond to what is going on in the world around you.
Creating a media calendar – which lists all the key dates and events in your area of expertise – means you can anticipate PR opportunities (an approach sometimes referred to as piggybacking).
What to include on your media calendar:
- Obvious stuff like Christmas, New Year, Easter, summer, Halloween and so on…yes it sounds obvious, but when you’re busy with other things it’s easy to get sidetracked. And as I point out in this post on Christmassy ideas it’s not too late to pitch lead times are often longer than you think (some publications/programmes have their Christmas content sewn up by September, for example).
- Political stuff like budget days, government spending reviews, elections, party conferences, parliamentary debates, select committee meetings and so on. As this post shows, whether we run a wedding planning business or think tank, we’re all affected by politics.
- Awareness days e.g. babyloss awareness day, World Peace Day etc (although as I explain in this post proceed with caution with awareness days).
- Other key dates in your area of expertise like the publication of annual reports, surveys, conferences etc. As an education correspondent, for example, I diarise things like exam results days, dates school places are allocated and big annual surveys like the PISA rankings.
You may have heard journalists talk about ‘on’ and ‘off diary’ and making a media calendar is, essentially, your ‘on diary’ stuff. And the more you can think like a journalist, the more likely you are to get coverage…
For more on awareness days, listen to this podcast episode.
2.Set up news alerts (‘off diary’)
One of the simplest things you can do to be more responsive to media stories (if you haven’t already) is to set up a news alert using key words that relate to your area of expertise ( I use Google alerts).
In today’s 24/ news culture, things quickly become old news, so if you can get into the habit of checking your news alerts every morning (and throughout the day), you’ll increase your chances of media coverage.
If a story comes along you can respond to (either by pitching an opinion article or offering comment to a journalist) you’ll be able to respond quickly. I use Google alerts, but it’s also worth keeping an eye out on social media for breaking news (Twitter is great for this).
3.Get some training
Every day I speak to at least one person who says they want to do PR (or do better at it) but they:
- Don’t have time
- Don’t have the budget to hire a PR company
- Are not sure where to start
- Are dealing with difficult colleagues who don’t understand the media (and are pressurising them to pitch non-stories)
The list goes on and on…
The bottom line is this: If you want to get great PR you don’t have to spend a lot of money. But you do need to invest time.
If you want to speed things up, the best (and most cost-effective) thing you can do is invest in yourself. Take a course, go to an event ( my Soulful PR sessions are a snip at £15), invite a journalist in to speak to your colleagues about how the media really works, attend a webinar, plunder this blog for free advice, sign up for my free pitching course (see below)…whatever you can manage on your budget.